Rocket launch company Arianespace is reported to be anticipating a one-year delay in the readiness of its much-needed Ariane-6 vehicle. The concerns come from a risk analysis carried out by the European Space Agency (ESA).
Currently, the rocket is expected to make a test-flight around 2020, but an authoritative report in French business daily La Tribune suggests that various factors are likely to push the launch date back to 2021.
The rocket is needed by the ArianeGroup in order to see its launch costs fall to those levied by arch-rival SpaceX as well as operators such as Russia’s International Launch Services.
La Tribune says that three specific areas are causing worries for the rocket’s development engineers: avionics, flight software and launch tanks. Key elements of the new design for Ariane-6 are its reusable components. The French financial newspaper quotes the ESA’s Director of Launchers Daniel Neuenschwander, who downplayed the study as simply an assessment, and said the launcher remained on schedule.